event 26 févr. 2020

Publication // Nexus Mapping Study in South East Europe

By Schmidt, G., Dworak T, T., Romanovska, L., Berglund, M. and Matauschek, C. This study focuses on the SEE2020 Region, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Serbia, within its wider geographic context. It is aimed as the conceptual and technical background to support and inform the Nexus Policy Dialogue process, ongoing since 2013 in SEE under the ‘Petersberg Phase II / Athens Declaration Process’ and Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) programme “International Waters: Learning Exchange and Resources Network” (IW:LEARN) in cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).

Nexus see1
(C) Alex Bagirov / Unsplash


This study was developed in the scope of the "Water-Food-Energy-Environment Nexus Policy Dialogue Process in Southeastern Europe (SEE NPDP)" project, by the Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) of the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) implemented by the Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean (GWP-Med).

Governments of Southeastern Europe (SEE) have agreed in 2013 on the strategy to guide economies towards 2020 (Strategy "SEE 2020-Jobs and Prosperity in European Perspective"). It was decided to move towards policy integration for the management of natural resources as described through the Water-Food-Energy-Environment Nexus ap-proach. The aim of the Project was to enhance the integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and transboundary cooperation in the SEE region. The activity was designed to foster the implementation of the Water, Energy and Food Nexus approach and catalysing action for its adoption and implementation at both the national and transboundary level by following the objectives of the SEE 2020- Strategy.

Content of the study

The preparation of a Regional Nexus Mapping Study identified the level of institutional, legislative and policy integration in the water, energy, agriculture and environment sectors in each country. Identified key interlinkages, potential synergies and conflicts among these fertilised opportunities for a political process under the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), enhancing cooperation in the SEE in Transboundary Water Resources Management.The SEE2020 region includes six economies marked by relatively similar economic growth and land use, but with significant differences in energy, water and food production and consumption, as well as ecosystem preservation. The specific objectives of the Study are the following:

  • Identification of the level of integration of management of natural resources related to Nexus (i.e. water, energy, food and ecosystems).
  • Identification of interlinkages and potential benefits, trade‐offs and conflicts among Nexus sectors (water, energy, food and ecosystems).
  • Brief assessment of the levels and implementation status of cooperation for the management of transboundary basins in the SEE2020 region.

In the SEE2020 region, some existing good practice examples of the Nexus have been identified and included:

  • The establishment of inter‐ministerial coordination bodies
  • The operation of multi‐sectoral consultative bodies (e.g. rural development), whichcan foster exchange, objective‐setting and implementation across sectors
  • The integration of water and biodiversity targets in agriculture/rural developmentplans
  • The elaboration of Nexus conflict studies to identify areas of negotiation or synergies

However, many policy and management areas still show significant gaps and potential for improvements towards addressing the Nexus more effectively. In general, the assessed SEE2020 economies have an established administrative system where several authorities share the competencies for each of the specific Nexus sectors,with one ‘line’ authority leading initiatives for each of the sectors. Additionally, the capacities at management authorities are limited, in terms of human resources as well as regarding data and information. Similar is with policy makers, who often lack competencies on integrated approaches. In order to avoid or manage trade‐offs and foster synergies between the different Nexus policies, regulation, strategies and plans should promote an early and wide integration of the aspects and concerns of the related Nexus sectors in own developments. This study, however, shows that the integration is still at a rather low level.

This study proposes implementing a more consistent Strategy to move from Nexus conflicts, trade‐offs and insecurities towards shared benefits, by implementing a Nexus approach and actions.

Key findings

Given the significant interactions between the Nexus sectors, related conflicts/trade‐offs, and insecurities, being considered as negative effects, this Study recommends to implement further actions and measures under the Nexus approach, thus fostering integration and cross‐sectors benefits. The study proposes to prioritise 5 major pathways with associated steps and actions. These pathways focus on:

  • Optimise planning towards integration for benefits and resilience
  • Develop and learn from pilots
  • Prioritize climate change resilience
  • Underpin decision‐making with better data
  • Implement pertinent past recommendations


January 2020


© German Environment Agency; German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety; Austrian Development Agency

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